The truck transportation industry is a significant contributor to the economy. It moves raw materials from local suppliers to factories that use them in production. Finished products are then transported to stores and wholesalers.
Trucks move much more cargo than trains, planes and ships. But trucking companies face many regulations and challenges that can disrupt business.
Regulations and Legal Considerations
The trucking industry is regulated by a number of different laws and regulations. This includes Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules that govern truck driver qualifications, hours of service, and DOT drug testing. These standards are essential to keeping freight safe and secure while in transit.
In addition, trucking companies must comply with employment regulations for truck drivers. These laws include minimum wage and workplace safety requirements. A trucking company can face legal issues if it fails to adhere to these standards.
The DOT, FMCSA, and NHTSA can issue new trucking regulations at any time. Freight shippers and trucking companies must stay up to date on these changes so they can operate efficiently. This includes ensuring their trucks are up to par with DOT registration and filing compliance applications on time. A lawyer can help trucking companies understand these laws and implement them properly. They can also advise on other strategies to avoid potential legal challenges.
Insurance policies for truck transportation can vary depending on the type of business. Agents are an option for those who need help understanding different policies and coverage options. Business owners can also choose to purchase their policy directly from an insurer if they feel comfortable doing so.
Trucks that transport cargo across state lines must meet minimum liability insurance requirements set by the federal government. These trucks might also be required to carry additional specialized insurance policies for certain types of cargo.
Heavier or more dangerous cargo may carry a higher risk of damage in an accident, which would result in higher insurance premiums. Also, some types of cargo are not covered under standard insurance policies, including livestock, pharmaceuticals and flammable materials.
If a driver’s negligent actions cause damage to someone else’s property, general liability coverage protects the responsible party for up to $750,000. Some policies also include libel, slander and false advertising coverage for situations where an individual sues the driver.
In addition to Federal limits, States determine laws and regulations affecting truck size and weight on non-Interstate elements of the NHS. These State route restrictions often include width and length limitations. FHWA monitors these restrictions to ensure that they comply with Federal permitting privileges.
Truck restrictions are put in place to protect roadways from damage, especially when it comes to bridges that may be too weak to support the weight of certain loads. Moreover, they can prevent the loss of lives due to accidents and injuries.
Many truck drivers and shippers advocate for revisions to these rules. They argue that allowing bigger trucks would lower freight costs and encourage railroads to transfer some freight to highways. However, Valdivia believes that this is not the right approach. He points out that truck restrictions should be based on economic dynamics and not on the whims of truckers. For example, he suggests that peak-hour truck restrictions could be effective.
Truck drivers, the companies that employ them, and highway safety advocates must all find a balance between keeping roadways safe for everyone while allowing trucking companies to make a profit and transport goods. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is a part of the Department of Transportation, oversees many regulations and standards. These include DOT certification, drug testing, hours of service limits, vehicle maintenance, a driver wellness program, and whistleblower protection.
Trucking companies must also adhere to standards regarding the loading and unloading of cargo. Cargo that is not secured properly can lead to accidents on the road. The same goes for trucks that are driving in extreme weather conditions like rain and snow. If the truck driver fails to adjust their speed or stop driving during bad weather and causes an accident, the trucking company can be held responsible. The FMCSA also partners with stakeholders including federal, state, and local enforcement agencies, the motor carrier industry, safety groups, and organized labor on efforts to reduce bus and truck-related crashes.